The Myths, Art and Science of Great Marketing Automation

If you are working in-house, you need to develop a team that can work together not only to create a great strategy designed for marketing automation — but to execute it. Without great execution, a great strategy is unrealized.

Great marketing automation strategies can give you a lasting strategic advantage. The hard part is they are complex beasts. And while the myth may say you can just press this one button, add this one more piece of software or follow these three steps to be successful, great marketing automation strategies require a unique combination of both marketing art and science.

The process of strategy creation and execution requires a combination of skillsets and dynamics that are not easy to develop and maintain. This is why companies never develop or can lose their edge, while others gain their own.

The Myths

We've worked in great companies that still have trouble developing and executing great marketing automation. Too much science, not enough art. Too much art, no science. Marketing MBAs applying one-size-fits all strategies. There are lots of traps and myths that make it seem like "if we just do this one more thing our strategy will suddenly be great."

Experience says otherwise. How much incremental budget have you spent on services that didn't drive results or ROI? Or even got off the ground?

The Art

The art of a great strategy is aligning your brand, communications and marketing strategies within the content and activities that drive your automation engine. That means the automated stuff that you do has to successfully position your company as a market leader through content and interactions with your target audience (automation should also interface with offline channels but that's not our focus at the moment) in digital media.

But to be successful, your strategy not only needs impactful positioning and content, it needs to be specifically designed for automation.

So your artists also need to be scientists. Without this dynamic it is very hard to develop and execute a great automation strategy.

Organizational issues and resource gaps often create a situation where a clear strategy is never successfully developed in the first place. Small companies lack resources and sometimes lack focus and expertise. Marketing teams in large companies can have fragmented disciplines that create operational paralysis - spinning wheels and spending money but not executing a coherent strategy, which is what you need to drive consistent results and ROI.

Great strategies orchestrate content and interactions across websites and blogs, inbound and outbound activities, and require a strategic editorial integration that provides the framework for specific user journeys.

The Science

The science is combining marketing technologies and techniques that support your specific automation strategy, not the out-of-the-box implementation or the one in that marketing guru's blog post. Together, the "tech stack" must capture and track data across all your digital touch-points within your digital realm that identify and qualify potential buyers and move them through an effective buyer journey.

There's too much complexity and subject matter around marketing technology stacks to discuss in this post, but the takeaway is that the science end of execution requires both an input strategy designed specifically for marketing automation as well as deep experience in automation technologies and how to optimize and execute for that specific strategy - your strategy.


It's not cookie cutter. It's science and art. And it's easier to screw up or plod along than it is to reach your potential.

If you are working in-house you need to develop a team that can work together to not just come up with a great strategy designed for marketing automation, but to execute.

Without great execution a great strategy is unrealized. This is much harder than most in-house marketing organizations to anticipate, which is why the largest corporations use agencies of all types to develop and execute the strategies that maintain their edge.

You may have some of the puzzle, but not all of it. In this case you need to identify the gaps in skillsets and resources and find an agency that completes the puzzle within your budget.

You may have none of the puzzle. And while this may seem daunting there are benefits to outsourcing strategy development and execution to teams who do that for a living.

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